updated 12:55 pm EDT, Fri October 14, 2011
Siri commands extremely limited outside US
Many US Apple Stores still have some iPhone 4S units in stock, despite sizable interest so far, anecdotal evidence and investigation by MacNN suggests. One explanation may stem from rumors that Apple decided to ramp up production further ahead of launch than usual, granting more breathing space. Work on iOS 5 may ultimately been responsible for the delay; the firmware has over 200 changes, including iCloud and the 4S-only Siri voice system.
Apple also has more alternative distribution points now than it initially did for the iPhone 4, such as Verizon, Sprint and Sam's Club. While Apple tends to favor its own stores when it comes to stock, people may be choosing third-party vendors for the sake of proximity and avoiding long lineups.
Outside the US, meanwhile, 4S buyers in Canada and the UK are complaining that Siri functions are too limited. While the system can handle a lot of iPhone functions, like calls, reminders, weather forecasts and text messaging, two major functions -- maps and search for local businesses -- are currently US-only. These options will only extend to other countries in 2012, Apple's Siri FAQ indicates.
A more serious issue may be accents, as anecdotes received by MacNN and seen elsewhere on the web suggest that Siri may sometimes have trouble understanding voices even in regions the system is designed for. Siri officially understands US, UK and Australian English, and by virtue of the US, Canadian dialects. The only other languages supported at the moment are French and German; options like Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Spanish are due in 2012. A Siri expansion could potentially coincide with the launch of the iPad 3, which is generally expected in March or April. Some people have wondered why Siri is missing from the iPad 2, since the tablet is equally as powerful as the 4S.